Battle of Fredericksburg

Thursday, December 11, 1862 to Monday, December 15, 1862

Currier & Ives portrait of the Battle of Fredericksburg. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Battle of Fredericksburg results from a planned invasion of the South by Major General Ambrose Burnside. In hopes of quickly advancing to the Confederate capitol at Richmond, Virginia, Burnside leads the Army of the Potomac across the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Unfortunately, Burnside's forces are delayed by a lack of pontoon bridges, and General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia has time to intercept the Union forces at Fredericksburg. A five-day battle results. The fighting commences in the city on December 11 and 12, and several Union advances are repulsed on December 13 and 14, before Burnside finally withdraws on December 15. The battle is an important victory for Southern morale, but it is an embarrassment in the North, where critics agonize over poor Union tactics, which are evident in lopsided casualties -- on one part of the battlefield, some eight Union soldiers lie dead for each Confederate soldier. Many Northerners question President Lincoln's fortitude and ability to lead in wartime. Lincoln removes Burnside from command a month later. 


Open Timeline